4 June 2021

Sancti Petroci, Abbatis et Confessoris

Today, June 4, is the Festival of the Patron of Cornwall, S Petroc. 

In the Ordinariate Calendar ... don't ask me why ... he has misguidedly wandered off to May 23, following three mss. But June 4 is his authentic date; it is thus given in the Roman Martyrology. And in the medieval Exeter diocesan sources. And in French liturgical books. And he is thus observed in Cornwall. And in the Anglican diocese of Truro (which owes its Calendar to the erudite Canon Doble). (Possibly it might occur to somebody to try the hypothesis that May 23 was his obitus and June 4 his depositio ... but I know no evidence to support this. There were also a couple of autumn festivals, one called the Exaltatio, the other the Translatio, probably linked to the Digging Up and the Removal of his relics from Padstow to a place of safety at Bodmin during the more vivid Danish contributions to our national history.)

Medieval relic-lists suggest that bits of him did rather travel. I would be interested if anybody knew of a still-extant relic. I suppose any North French sacristies which were not looted at the Revolution might be the best places to look. I would suggest the Oxford Oratory, but the Jesuits, fine folk, cremated all the relics there back in the 1970s.

Under the new CDF rules for the Old Mass Calendar sanctioned in 2020, S Petroc may be observed today instead of S Francis Caracciolo. Indeed, if he is acknowledged as Patron of Cornwall, Cernow, Kernow, he ought to be a top ranking celebration therein (although, this year, he will have lost his First Evensong/First Vespers to Corpus Christi).

His (Bollandist) Vita gives highly plausible circumstantial topographical details about his departure from Padstow to a hermitage in a remote valley nearby; and the place of his death. The church at Little Petherick close by was beautified, back in the dear but dead days of Anglican Catholicism, by Athelstan Riley, Seigneur de la Trinite. Windows ... Rood Screen ... by Sir Ninian Comper. Who else? Only the best would do for Athelstan and, er, his God.

S Petroc's processional banner (also by Comper) bears the words Ave gemma monachorum/ gloria Dumnoniorum/ nos, Petroce, respice. I suspect that this, in a metre traditionally used for liturgical sequences, was composed by Athelstan himself. Unless anybody can provide a genuine earlier source??

For my own fun, I have completed the stanza with Nemo sit in fontis valle/ qui sanctorum possit calle/ elici, te vindice.

"The Saints' Way" passes nearby.


Atticus said...

"I would suggest the Oxford Oratory, but the Jesuits, fine folk, cremated all the relics there back in the 1970s."


How came they to exercise such terrible sway?

*Shuffles off muttering "Tu es Petroc et super hanc, er, Petrock, I will, um..."*

Arthur Gallagher said...

I read yesterday, that one of his students was St. Kevin, and that he spent some time in Ireland. St. Kevin's day is June 3, which is why I was reading about St. Kevin. Interesting coincidence in dates.